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(Sunday, November 15th)
Final Score: Miami 25, Tampa Bay 23
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Chad Henne made up for an interception late in the fourth quarter by directing a final-minute drive for a game-winning field goal, as the Miami Dolphins pulled out a 25-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Land Shark Stadium.
Henne, with the Dolphins nursing a six-point lead, was picked off by Tampa Bay linebacker Quincy Black inside the Miami 30 on a third-down pass with 1:43 to play. The Bucs converted soon after when Cadillac Williams reached the end zone from a yard away with 1:14 remaining, and the extra point gave Tampa Bay a 23-22 lead.
The Dolphins, who missed an extra point earlier in the game, took over at their own 16 following the kickoff and Henne hit Davone Bess for 25 yards on the first play. After a pass interference penalty against the Bucs, Henne and Bess hooked up for 16 yards to the Tampa Bay 34. Following a spike, Ricky Williams broke through the line for 27 yards and Miami used its last timeout before Dan Carpenter came on and drilled a 25-yard field goal with 10 seconds to play.
"We won a football game here today, but we can't ignore the signs," said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. "We have to finish these games in the fourth quarter the right way. We didn't do it really on either side of the football."
Tampa Bay's last-ditch lateral attempt on the play after the kickoff went nowhere and the Dolphins (4-5) won for the fourth time in their last six games.
Henne finished 17-of-31 for 175 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Miami. Williams ran for 102 yards on 20 carries, while Ronnie Brown added 82 on 12 attempts before leaving the contest with an ankle injury.
Josh Freeman completed 16-of-28 passes for 196 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Buccaneers (1-8), who notched their first win of the season last week against Green Bay. Kellen Winslow Jr. caught seven passes for 102 yards in defeat.
The Bucs trailed 19-6 heading to the break, but pulled within 10 on their second series of the second half. A 35-yard pass to Winslow put Tampa Bay at the Miami 35, leading to a 54-yard field goal from Connor Barth with 4:05 to play in the third.
Miami then crossed midfield for the first time in the second half, but Brown had the ball punched out of his hands at the Tampa Bay 32 and the Bucs recovered. Brown also injured his ankle on the play and limped off the field.
After the game he was on crutches.
"It's tough just coming out of the game. Fortunately, we were able to get a W but it's tough for me because I don't like to be on the sidelines," stated Brown.
Freeman followed by directing a six-play drive for a touchdown. After converting 3rd-and-2 with a three-yard toss to Michael Clayton, Freeman hit Winslow for 19 yards on the final play of the third quarter. The rookie went to the end zone on the first play of the fourth and found Maurice Stovall behind the secondary for a 33-yard score to make it a 19-16 game.
After a trade of punts, the Dolphins ate nearly five minutes off the clock and added three points on a 45-yard field goal by Carpenter with 6:04 to play, setting up the wild finish.
The Bucs took a 3-0 lead on the game's first possession, as a 36-yard kickoff return by Clifton Smith set up a 51-yard field goal by Barth, but Miami answered with a 77-yard march for a touchdown on its first offensive series. A 45-yard run by Brown out of the Wildcat formation keyed the nine-play set and he took a straight handoff one yard for the score. The extra point was blocked, leaving the Dolphins with a 6-3 edge.
After a trade of punts, the Dolphins recovered a Freeman fumble at the Miami 34, but the Bucs forced a three-and-out. Another Freeman fumble on the next Tampa Bay series was recovered by one of his teammates to end the opening quarter, but the Dolphins got the ball back on another punt and added three points on a 49-yard field goal by Carpenter.
Tampa Bay responded with a 50-yard field goal by Barth to again make it a three-point game with 2:36 left in the first half.
The Dolphins punted it away at the two-minute warning, but pinned the Bucs at their own six and a controversial call went in Miami's favor soon after.
Freeman appeared to complete a pass to Clayton that would have given Tampa Bay a first down, but the ball popped loose and Miami's Jason Taylor returned it to the end zone. The play was then ruled incomplete, but a video review gave the Dolphins an interception, although it appeared as if Clayton lost the ball after contact and had hit the ground. Taylor could not advance the ball because it was initially ruled incomplete.
Miami took possession at the Tampa Bay eight after Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was also hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Henne followed with a five-yard touchdown pass to Kory Sperry moments later to give the Dolphins a 16-6 advantage.
"This loss is solely on me," stated Morris. "At the end of the first half, getting a personal foul as a head coach is unacceptable. It was a discipline issue on my part and I didn't do the right thing. That's a great lesson for me as a young coach and a great lesson for my team."
The Miami defense forced a Tampa Bay punt and, with 52 seconds left, Henne was able to move the offense from its own 48 to the Tampa 12-yard line, setting up a 30-yard Carpenter field goal for a 19-6 lead just before the intermission.
The Dolphins snapped a three-game losing streak against the Bucs and lead the all-time series, 5-4...Sperry notched his first career TD reception...Barth became the first Bucs kicker with three 50-yard-plus field goals in one game...Miami has a short week with a visit to Carolina on Thursday, while Tampa Bay hosts New Orleans next Sunday...The Dolphins were without linebacker Joey Porter, guard Justin Smiley and tight end Anthony Fasano. Porter was a coach's decision late Saturday night, while Smiley missed practice this week with a shoulder injury and Fasano has been sidelined with a sore hip...Tampa Bay played without wide receiver Antonio Bryant because of a knee injury.
11/15 22:58:35 ET